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CLUMEQ, Canada's most powerful supercomputer

Published: 18 Nov 2002

Canada's most powerful supercomputer was inaugurated today at McGill University.

Project further cements the collaboration between Laval, UQAM and McGill

Canada's most powerful supercomputer was inaugurated today at McGill University by Ms Rita Dionne-Marsolais, Québec's Minister for Energy, the Honourable Céline Hervieux-Payette, Senator, on behalf of MrAllan Rock, Minister of Industry, Ms Carmen Charrette, Executive Vice-President of Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and Dr Bernard J. Shapiro, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University. This high performance computer will be used by CLUMEQ scientists (Consortium Laval-UQAM-McGill and Eastern Québec) for research in a variety of fields including engineering, aerodynamics, nanomaterials, environmental sciences, bioinformatics, computer sciences, medical sciences and the arts.

The acquisition of the supercomputer was made possible by an $8 million grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Ministère de l'Éducation du Québec. Silicon Graphics Inc., Allegra Solutions Inc. and StorageTek have also considerably contributed to this important project. Dr Anthony Masi, McGill's Vice-Principal (Information Systems and Technology) stated "Thanks to this state-of-the-art hardware, CLUMEQ is today one of the best equipped centers in North America. Our three universities have joined forces to share resources in order to facilitate advanced research and be competitive at an international level in strategically selected areas."

The supercomputer consists of two independent parallel systems, a 64-processor Silicon Graphics machine with a shared memory of 128 Gigabytes and a 256-processor cluster with a distributed memory of 384 Gigabytes. Both have high-speed RAID disk subsystems and an automated tape library. The supercomputer, while residing at McGill, will be used by CLUMEQ members from the three partner universities and also made accessible to other academic and industrial researchers. Supercomputers are recognized as an essential tool for the acceleration of the innovation-design-production cycle and should prove an important asset to high-technology players.

Dr Louise Proulx, Vice-Principal Research at McGill, said "While further reinforcing the collaboration between our three institutions, the new supercomputer will create additional links between CLUMEQ and Québec and Canadian industries. By giving them access and training on such high speed computers, they should be in a better position to compete in the globalization era."

CLUMEQ's supercomputer has been demonstrated to be the fastest in the country. The recent (CISS: Canadian Inter-Networked Scientific Supercomputer) national challenge grouped Canada's major high performance computing sites in a grid-like fashion to attempt to solve, in only 24 hours of computing, a problem that would normally have taken 3.5 years (1,300 days) to compute on a personal computer (PC). This challenge confirmed the singular power of the CLUMEQ machine, which out of 6,489 units of required computing executed 2,031 units on 250 processors, while the remaining 1,050 processors from all other computers aggregately solved the rest. The CLUMEQ supercomputer has demonstrated a sustained performance of 357 billion (357,000,000,000) additions, subtractions, multiplications and divisions per second. It is in the process of being ranked in the first tier of the Top 500, worldwide.

Allegra Solutions designed the distributed computer's architecture and operating system and carried out all the tests to launch this pioneering technology. It is also assisting CLUMEQ in harnessing and optimizing the cluster computer's performance, in making it available in time to its users and in its maintenance.

The CLUMEQ alliance was formed in 2000 under Dr Wagdi G. Habashi, a McGill Mechanical Engineering Professor and internationally recognized authority in Computational Fluid Dynamics. Other principal members of the Consortium are Professors Michel Fortin, André Fortin, Denis Poussart, Roger Lévesque and Jean Bousquet of Université Laval; Professors René Laprise and Jean-Pierre Blanchet of Université du Québec à Montréal; and Professors Frank Ferrie, Martin Grant and Hong Guo of McGill University. Mr Ron Haber will be CLUMEQ's General Manager.

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